Skip the NI Direct Bar
Skip navigation

Education Minister announces nine new specialist schools

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Education Minister Caitríona Ruane today announced that a further nine schools will be designated as Specialist Schools from September 2008 bringing the total number of Specialist Schools to 34.

The minister thanked the independent panel that recommended the schools for inclusion and commended the nine new pilot schools. She said:

“I wish to congratulate the nine schools on their success. I am encouraged that we have a range of specialisms across the nine schools. I wish to thank the panel members for their work during the assessment process and I noted with interest that all of the applications demonstrated a high degree of commitment and energy and I hope this will provide encouragement to those schools that were not successful this year.”

In their advice to the minister, the panel members stated that the applications demonstrate that there is a growing impetus in the post-primary community to work together to secure a wide range of provision for all pupils. The applications demonstrated a commitment to excellence and to collaborative working with other education partners and the wider community to enrich the learning experiences and life opportunities of young people and for the benefit of their local community.

The minister said: “I am encouraged by the findings of the panel as there is a clear indication that post-primary schools are seeking to work together in the best interest of the young people and the wider community. I am also encouraged that the schools are actively working in Area Learning Communities in the best interest of all pupils in an area and not just those registered in a single school. This is a solid foundation on which we can develop exciting and innovative approaches to delivering the flexibility and choice that is envisaged through the Entitlement Framework. I will be working to ensure that these developments continue to flourish and that we develop a system that provides equality of opportunity through numerous pathways to meet the needs and aspirations of our young people.”

Notes to Editors:

Media queries to the Department of Education Press Office on 028 9127 9755. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Office via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.

The schools announced today as suitable for designation as specialist schools in September 2008 are:

Ulidia ICArtsCarrickfergus
Downshire SchoolBusiness & EnterpriseCarrickfergus
Bangor Academy & Sixth Form CollegeHumanitiesBangor
Slemish ICHumanitiesBallymena
St Patrick’s GrammarHumanitiesDownpatrick
Thornhill CollegeMathematicsDerry
Carrickfergus Grammar SchoolScienceCarrickfergus
St Paul’s High SchoolScienceNewry
Holy Trinity CollegeSportCookstown

There are currently 25 schools designated as specialist in 2006 and 2007 (see below). Following an evaluation of the first two years of the pilot, schools were invited to submit applications seeking inclusion in year three.

A total of 27 post-primary schools attended information sessions and writing clinics on the specialist application process and applications were received from 13 schools by the 02 May 2008 deadline. This number is fewer than in previous years and could possibly be attributed to the very short timeframe for completion of the applications. Some 15 schools have already indicated that they would defer their applications until next year in order to better prepare for the application process.

Each school was required to submit the following in their application:-

  • A four-year School Development Plan (SDP).
  • A four-year Community Development Plan (CDP) that involves developing partnerships with at least 5 partner schools.
  • Evidence of how a school already has, or intends to raise, at least £25,000 of unconditional private sector sponsorship
  • A bid for a one-off recurrent support grant and an outline of how this would be used.

Schools will be designated for a period of 4 years and will receive £100 per pupil in each of the 4 years to support equally the implementation of the school and community development plans and up to £75,000 support grant to add to the £25,000 sponsorship raised to enhance provision in the specialist area.

DE and DETI have secured resources from the Innovation Fund for STEM specialist schools. Three of the 9 successful schools are from the STEM specialisms.

An Independent Panel, chaired by Dr Tom Hesketh (Director of the RTU), was established to consider the applications and give advice to the Department on those schools that fully meet the criteria as outlined in the associated guidance. A list of panel members is attached. The assessment of the applications was rigorous and a final list of 9 schools, each meeting the criteria, was drawn up and subsequently submitted to the Department for consideration.

Those schools that have been unsuccessful in this application round will be offered the opportunity to receive detailed feedback from the Chairperson of the Panel.

List of Specialist Schools Applications 2008

Carrickfergus Grammar SchoolCarrickfergusControlled GrammarScience
Downshire SchoolCarrickfergusControlled
Business & Enterprise
Slemish ICBallymenaGMISHumanities
Ulidia ICCarrickfergusGMISArts
Bangor Academy & Sixth From CollegeBangorControlled SecondaryHumanities
St Patrick’s Grammar SchoolDownpatirckVoluntary GrammarHumanities
Holy Trinity CollegeCookstownMaintained
St Paul’s High SchoolNewryMaintained SecondaryScience
Thornhill CollegeDerryVoluntary GrammarMathematics
St Patrick’s ‘Bearnageeha’BelfastMaintained SecondaryHumanities
Dunclug CollegeBallymenaControlled SecondaryTechnology
Rainey EndowedMagherafeltVoluntary GrammarMathematics
St Mary’s LimavadyLimavadyMaintained SecondaryBusiness and Enterprise

Specialist Schools designated September 2006

Ashfield Girls High School, Belfast (ICT)
Belfast Model School for Girls (ICT)
Glengormley High School (ICT)
Ballyclare High School (ICT)
St Cecilia’s College, Derry (Performing Arts)
St Louise’s College, Belfast (Performing Arts)
Limavady High School (Performing Arts)
St Mary’s College, Derry (Science)
Lumen Christi College, Derry (Science)
St Malachy’s College, Belfast (Music)
Shimna Integrated College, (Languages)

Specialist Schools designated September 2007

Hazelwood Integrated College, Newtownabbey (Arts)
Portora Royal, Enniskillen (Arts)
Carrickfergus College (Business & Ent)
St Patrick’s and St Brigid’s College, Claudy (Business & Ent)
Grosvenor Grammar School, Belfast (Languages)
Belfast High School, Newtownabbey (Languages)
St Columb’s College, Derry (Mathematics & Computing)
Loreto College, Coleraine (Science)
St Patrick’s College, Maghera (Science)
St Mary’s Grammar, Magherafelt (Science)
St Colman’s College, Newry (Science)
Dromore High School, Dromore (Science)
Cross and Passion College, Ballycastle (Sport)

Members of Independent Assessment Panel:

Tom Hesketh (Chair) Director Regional Training Unit (RTU)
Matt Murray Former Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI)
Roy Downey Former ETI and DfES Specialist Schools Assessor
Robert Fitzpatrick Former Principal of Ballyclare High School and RTU Associate
Grainne McCafferty Former Principal St Cecilia’s College Derry
David Thompson Former Principal Boys Model Belfast and Regent House Grammar School
Noreen Campbell Former Principal Hazelwood Integrated College
Sean McIlwee Former Principal St Patrick’s Maghera
Marie Cowan Former Principal Oakgrove Integrated College Derry
Patrick Hugh McCann Former Principal St Colman’s College, Newry